Caravan: A Story by Lalita Vaitheeswaran

It seemed like a long endless journey. We camels are used to walking but today it wasn’t the same. It was hotter than ever and there was no sign of any oases. I had been given a lot of water to drink by my master but don’t know why was feeling a little weak. We all walked in a straight line, with loads on our backs. There was ivory, wool, fabrics, cotton, spices and what not. My master was a kind man as I could see many of my friends kicking, snarling and creating a ruckus while being loaded.

Al Sharif chaacha was the oldest and slowest.

We three I ( Ibil) Hijen and Al Fahl have been together for the past may caravan trips and have experienced the good and bad of the journey.

Al Ashraa was a newcomer and she looked pregnant. She walked with a waddle and was given only a light load that day. She was behaving weird and was refusing to walk. The caravaneer was trying all means to make her move. He was heard saying that she is into her tenth month and that’s why is having reluctance to walk.

We three friends were concerned about her. What if she delivers her calf on the way? We were also a little worried about Al Sharif Chaacha. His legs trembled and he looked too exhausted. What if he falls sick on the way?

Alladin was the healthiest of us all. He was given the heaviest load. The caravaneer was heard saying that Alladin would be used to ferry the calf if Al Aashra delivers on the way.

Suddenly, I saw Al sharif chacha stumbling and staggering. His feet was swollen and was also bleeding. His sheep-skin boots had also given way and looked as if it was difficult for him to continue any further.

The caravaneer was looking upset and was contemplating upon abandoning chaacha . We all tried to make noises in protest and kicked and snarled to show our dislike. My master who is a good man patted me on my back with tears in his eyes and said “ Ibil, my boy, we have no other choice’
I knew that these eventualities do happen but then we all have emotions and felt sad.

Suddenly, Al Aashra started having her labor pains. My master ran with his colleague to attend to her. Soon a calf was seen who looked so much like her! A hammock was made and tied to Alladin, the healthy one. He was happy to receive the calf and proclaimed himself its uncle. Al Aashra was relieved as she could see her child in front of her and kept walking, though slowly.

An oasis was visible to our delight and we all excitedly walked towards it. There was a little surrounding vegetation which would suffice for all of us it seemed.

We had our fill and continued our journey…
and the caravan moved on…